Minouche Shafik: Apologist for the Experts
Minouche Shafik of the Bank of England recently spoke to the Oxford Union in defense of the monetary Experts. The “Experts,” she pointed out, “have come in for a great deal of criticism of late.” She suggests this phenomenon may have something to do with the 2008 financial crisis. She also mentions various currency manipulation and interest rate scandals as possible motivations for public outrage. We applaud her keen insight.
However, she warns, it was due to the Experts that we have “gained about 20 years of life expectancy since 1950,” essentially eradicated polio, seen massive increases in world incomes, experienced a plunge in global poverty, and so on. She also brings up sanitation, roads, and education. Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that so many decisions have been delegated to experts. Even Caesar (that bastion of freedom) turned to the experts to help him manage the empire.
More specifically to monetary problems, we learn that governments have created independent central banks full of Experts to decide on monetary policy. This was to protect the monetary policy decision making from the influence of politics. Politicians couldn’t adequately run an effective monetary system, so they outsourced it to the Experts. Seriously.
Of course, there’s no mention of how the “experts” got it wrong in 2008, or why we should keep trusting them. We do get some dismissal that the whole thing was a simple “failure of collective imagination of many bright people… to understand the risks to the system.” Presumably, these “bright people” are the experts and one wonders how self-blinded they are to overlook the fact that they caused the very risks they don’t even understand!
The lesson we simpletons are to take from all this is that the experts have everything under control. They are the ones “who sift through all the information and make informed judgments," according to Shafik. We just need to trust them, to keep the faith. Sort of like one of those “let go and let God” kind of things, except the god in this case would be the Experts.
Now, if the reader thinks referring to this special class of officials as “The Experts” is a little creepy, the entire tone of the speech reads the same. She has a self-labeled “agenda” to communicate and speak to the frustrations of the masses in a way that will make them more trusting of what the experts have in store. On one hand, it's the same ancient need of the regime to maintain control via propaganda. But on a more optimistic note, perhaps these speeches are signs of a concerned regime that is aware of an angry populace.
We don't want their expertise, thank you very much. In the words of Mises:
There is no other planning for freedom and general welfare than to let the market system work. There is no other means to attain full employment, rising real wage rates and a high standard of living for the common man than private initiative and free enterprise.